Cusco was somewhere that we spent far too much time and money but eventually became very familiar with. Before our Machu Picchu trek we spent 3 nights getting used to the altitude (Cusco is over 3,600 metres above sea level) and then another 6 nights after that because we were too exhausted to move on again. All of this time was spent at the same hostel; Cusco Packers. It was further out of town (about a 20 minute walk) and didn’t have the world’s greatest facilities, but we liked it anyway. One of the main reasons was a guy who works there called Dan who was exceptionally helpful throughout our extended stay in Cusco. Unfortunately, for our first few days in Cusco, Kat was really unwell and we spent lots of time chilling around the hostel. I’ll try to keep this blog as short as possible and only about Cusco. I’ll post a separate blog about the Salkantay trek.
We ventured into the Plaza de Armas of Cusco at least once a day while we were there and visited various cafes, restaurants and bars. The plaza itself was very picturesque and constantly buzzing with tourists and people trying to get you to book various tours and treks. I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever said ‘No, gracias’ so many times in my life. There are loads of artesenal markets where you can buy anything from tablecloths to woolly hats. We decided to buy a llama key ring each and they are our favourite souvenirs from South America up to this point. One of our favourite places to visit was called Qucharitos – a quirky cafe that makes their own ice-cream and serves paninis and salads. I think we went here at least 4 times during our time in Cusco and I would highly recommend it for cheap and fresh food and desserts. Another recommendation that we have would be Jack’s Cafe for breakfast – well worth the queue out of the door! The portions were enormous and they serve good-quality coffee too. We had eggs, beans, toast, potatoes, bacon and tomatoes it felt very homely. We also visited many different places for coffee and the best 2 places that we found were Museo del Café (not cheap but a great atmosphere, good service and excellent coffees) and La Valeriana (great coffee, empanadas and cupcakes). A good place for drinks atmosphere would be Paddy’s Irish Pub – incidentally the highest Irish-owned pub in the world! I got a free poster from here but I seem to have misplaced it in all the constant moving around. We rented our trekking equipment (sleeping bags, hiking boots, socks, walking poles and a backpack) from a shop called Rosly’s and got a really good deal.
In our time in Cusco, we enjoyed experiencing the buzz of the city and thought it was a worthwhile place to visit even if it is very touristy and expensive. We had intentions of doing the Rainbow Mountain trek but decided that another 3am wake-up after our Salkantay trek was just not for us. Instead, we relaxed and waited to leave on our next night bus to Arequipa.
The next post will be about our incredible 5 day trek to Machu Picchu.